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Heat wave kills dozens in Balkans, sparking forest fires, power outages

The Balkans, Europe
Photo: People try to extinguish a forest fire just outside the southern Macedonia's town of Bitola. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

July 24, 2007

BITOLA, Macedonia (AP) - Southeastern Europe baked in its second major heat wave in a month Tuesday, with at least 27 heat-related deaths in Romania, four in Italy, dozens of houses destroyed by forest fires in Macedonia and a countrywide power outage in Albania.

Romanian Health Minister Eugen Nicolaescu said at least 27 people, including another 12 on Monday, had died from the heat. Hundreds of others, most elderly, had collapsed in the streets from the heat.

In Macedonia, one person died and 20 were evacuated from burning houses near Bitola, the country's second-largest city, as temperatures reached 42 C amid a declared national emergency.

Thousands of firefighters and local residents battled into Tuesday to contain the huge blaze, while President Branko Crvenkovski ordered army units mobilized to help with the effort. Firefighting airplanes and helicopters were expected to arrive Tuesday from Croatia, Turkey and Austria.

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